Members of the public and relevant stakeholders were invited to a public consultation about the findings of the Family Safety Research 2017 last week.
Held at the To’oa Salamasina hall, the meeting was hosted by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development.
The aim was to gather information to understand Samoa’s current situation and serve to indicate how best to address violence and abuse that continue to plague and hinder the safety of our communities.
Participant Taupaū Luataivafa’asisina told the Samoa Observer that safety and the well being of everyone is very important.
“It is our responsibility to ensure and secure our communities (tofi); we must prioritise our safety, our health, our family and the well-being of our women and children,” Taupaū said.
“What’s happening in our country nowadays? You name it....but as a matai, father in this country, this is an opportunity for everyone to come together and share views on how to address violence against women and children.
“We all have a role to play.”
The ‘draft’ of the Samoa Family Safety Study 2017 commissioned by the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (M.W.C.S.D) aims to address the present state of domestic and gender-based violence in Samoa and the extent of the impact of current interventions.
The study recommends the Village councils to introduce curfew for evening devotion.
It also calls on Village councils to introduce tough penalties on perpetrators of family violence and to reintroduce Sunday laws in order for all family members to attend church services.
The study goes on to encourage village church ministers to conduct regular visits with families especially those in marginal farming lands as well as the strengthening of a’oga faifeau.
It also calls for M.W.C.S.D to initiate the process to amend the Village Fno Act 1990 in order to give village councils formal authority to intervene in matters of family violence.
This will give village councils the legal backing to intervene appropriately to resolve family violence incidents in the villages.
“The village or the community is the next platform of exposure and socialization for both children and adults.”
“The relationship between the village members and authority is well understood and respected.”
“It is one of the main factor behind the survey results showing an overwhelming preference for village councils to intervene in matters of family violence.”
“At the centre of this recommendation is the strong need for village councils to promptly intervene through its bylaws and advocacy role to settle matters of family violence in collaboration with village church ministers.”
The Family Safety Study says M.W.C.S.D should convince village councils and church ministers through advocacy work to promote family safety issues.